Is sustainable tourism possible in the truest sense of the word, when we all know the industry simply provides consumers’ constant demand for leisure travels? While the sustainability actions of many sectors in the tourism industry was to offset their carbon impact by partnering with organizations that plant trees or collect wastes, the approach has not made a significant impact in addressing the environmental effects of overtourism.
Actually, there is very little data provided on the environmental effects of tourism on many holiday destinations, particularly in third world developing countries. Mainly because governments are more focused on the economic benefits derived from their respective tourism industry, in terms of job and business creation abd the resulting tax revenues, to positive and negative impacts on the environment and local communities.
Yet it should be widely understood that the source of values that make tourist destinations popular are the very elements that need sustainable protection against overuse and abuse: the breathtaking landscapes, the awe-inspiring wildlife, the colorful history and the unique of the people.
While airlines, cruise ships, hotels, vacation rentals, entertainment hubs and event organizers all seek to improve and enhance customer experience, they must do by closing the gap between sustainability and tourism values.
Sustainable tourism must be understood as a way by which the tourism and travel industry help the communities in travel destinations reduce the negative impact of tourism activities; as well as give back some of the resources that were lost. Otherwise, there will be backlash in the form of environmental restrictions or at worst, cause environmental degradations that will make the destination unappealing to tourists.
How Can the Tourism Industry Become Green?
Tourism to be sustainable should aim to adopt practices that aim to at least maintain tourism values, present in every destination. At the same time, they should reduce the adverse impacts of tourism activities. Some examples include:
Managing the activities of tourists to make certain wildlife and their natural environments are protected.
Enhance tourist experience by holding festivals that provide authentic tourist experiences that celebrate and demonstrate the heritage and culture of the people. However, when doing so, be sure to observe other environmental practices such as covering the lawns and soft earth with protective ground covers. The use of crane mats or access mats is particularly important if heavy construction equipment and machinery is involved.
Create socio-economic benefits by letting communities promote through actual demonstrations, the use of organic materials in creating indigenous products and crafts.
Companies providing air, sea and land transport must commit to keep track of their energy use in order to be more transparent about their carbon footprint. Environmentally conscious consumers are now making informed travel decisions by deciding on choices that have less environmental impact.
Support waste-reduction movements not only to eliminate single-use plastics but all wastes, including food wastes, energy wastes, water wastes and unnecessary consumption or utilization of natural resources, including wildlife.